Weekly Column: Paris Climate Agreement Another Misguided Step That Puts U.S. At Competitive Disadvantage

Last year, President Obama entered into a radical climate agreement called the Paris Agreement with other global leaders in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gas. Unfortunately, it is a bad deal for America. We all want to pass on a clean, safe environment to future generations, but the Paris Agreement was made without the support of Congress or the American people. The new energy restrictions outlined in the Paris Agreement will lead to higher electricity rates and regulatory costs for U.S. producers and manufacturers, which are passed onto us in the form of higher prices. This puts our country at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world as we compete for new markets to sell our goods and services.  Simply put, the Paris Agreement is a bad deal for the United States’ economy.  It shackles our economy and raises electricity costs without even meeting the agreement’s goal of having an effect on climate change.

Currently under the agreement, the United States is obligated to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2025, or about 1.1 billion tons. That’s in addition to the more than 820 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions we’ve already cut over the past decade. Meanwhile, other signers, including Russia, India and Iran, are allowed to actually increase or have no cap on their emissions output. Crazier yet, China, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, has no emissions cap. So, while we increase our costs of production, the rest of the world continues to produce greenhouse gases and grow their economies which explains why research has shown the agreement has no measurable effect on the environment.

Cutting emissions comes at a big cost to our economy. According to a March 2017 study by NERA Economic Consulting, the Paris Agreement will cost the United States $3 trillion and cut 6.5 million jobs by 2040. Industry in the United States has already been stymied by the countless regulations imposed throughout President Obama’s tenure in office. It’s time that we allow industry to grow and create more jobs for our citizens. They should not have to leave the U.S. to competitively produce their products. The Paris Agreement is a bad deal, one which impacts our economy while allowing other countries to continue producing greenhouse gas emissions.

Good energy policies include an ‘all of the above’ approach that will strengthen our economy, create jobs and enhance our energy independence.  While we only have one clean coal power plant located at Big Stone in South Dakota, we still rely on electricity produced at clean coal fired plants in other states.  

In South Dakota, we have clean air and water. We intend to keep it that way. We also intend to have a strong economy that creates jobs for our citizens. These are not mutually exclusive. Let’s do both. Let’s not destroy our economy by adhering to the Paris Agreement, an agreement which clearly allows for the production of greenhouse gases by most of the rest of the world.